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Police disperse drinkers protesting against tier 2 rules in London

A small protest against new restrictions preventing people from different households meeting indoors took place in Soho, central London, on Friday night, with some revellers led away in handcuffs.

Police dispersed groups of drinkers after they spilled out of bars after the 10pm curfew and many continued gathering on the streets, as the capital moved into tier 2 of the coronavirus lockdown at midnight.

The new measures, aimed at reducing the rate of infection, mean that people from separate households in London will no longer be allowed to meet indoors in pubs, bars or restaurants.

Tier one – medium

  • The “rule of six” applies, meaning socialising in groups larger than six people is prohibited whether indoors or outdoors.
  • Tradespeople can continue to go into a household for work and are not counted as being part of the six-person limit.
  • Businesses and venues can continue to operate but pubs and restaurants must ensure customers only consume food and drink while seated, and close between 10pm and 5am.
  • Takeaway food can continue to be sold after 10pm if ordered by phone or online.
  • Schools and universities remain open.
  • Places of worship remain open but people must not mingle in a group of more than six.
  • Weddings and funerals can go ahead with restrictions on the number of people who can attend (15 and 30 respectively).
  • Exercise classes and organised sport can continue to take place outdoors, and – if the rule of six is followed – indoors.

Tier two – high

  • People are prohibited from socialising with anybody outside their household or support bubble in any indoor setting.
  • Tradespeople can continue to go into a household for work.
  • The rule of six continues to apply for socialising outdoors, for instance in a garden or public space like a park or beach.
  • Businesses and venues can continue to operate but pubs and restaurants must ensure customers only consume food and drink while seated, and close between 10pm and 5am.
  • Takeaway food can continue to be sold after 10pm if ordered online or by phone.
  • Schools and universities remain open.
  • Places of worship remain open but people must not mingle in a group of more than six.
  • Weddings and funerals can go ahead with restrictions on the number of people who can attend (15 and 30 respectively).
  • Exercise classes and organised sport can continue to take place outdoors but will only be permitted indoors if it is possible for people to avoid mixing with those they do not live with (or share a support bubble with), or for youth or disability sport.
  • Travel is permitted to amenities that are open, for work or to access education, but people are advised to reduce the number of journeys where possible.

Tier three – very high

  • People are prohibited from socialising with anybody they do not live with, or have not formed a support bubble with, in any indoor setting, private garden or at most outdoor hospitality venues and ticketed events.
  • Tradespeople can continue to go into a household for work.
  • The rule of six continues to apply to outdoor public spaces, such as parks, beaches, public gardens or sports venues.
  • Pubs and bars are only permitted to remain open to operate as restaurants, in which case alcohol can only be served as part of a substantial meal.
  • Schools and universities remain open.
  • Places of worship remain open but household mixing is not permitted.
  • Weddings and funerals can go ahead with restrictions on the number of people attending (15 and 30 respectively) but wedding receptions are not allowed.
  • The rules for exercise classes and organised sport are the same as in tier 2. They can continue to take place outdoors but will only be permitted indoors if it is possible for people to avoid mixing with people they do not live with (or share a support bubble with), or for youth or disability sport. However, in Merseyside, gyms were ordered to close when it entered tier 3.
  • Travelling outside a very high alert level area or entering a very high alert level area should be avoided other than for things such as work, education or youth services, to meet caring responsibilities or if travelling through as part of a longer journey.
  • Residents of a tier 3 area should avoid staying overnight in another part of the UK, while people who live in a tier 1 or tier 2 area should avoid staying overnight in a very high alert level area.


Photograph: Peter Byrne/PA

A placard saying: “Shut up you fascist Tories, no one tells me what time to go to bed,” was held aloft as a handful of protesters chanted: “We are united.” People angrily remonstrated with police officers.

Waqas Sadiq, a bouncer at Ronnie Scott’s jazz club on Frith Street, Soho, said the new rules had made many unhappy. “A lot of people are talking about it. There’s going to be a very bad impact from next week on all the businesses, especially in the West End,” he said.

“In our establishment, we’ve had to call all the people who have already booked, people who don’t live at the same address, and tell them, and maybe they’ll cancel their tickets … lots of people are losing their jobs and people have no money right now.”

One reveller told a reporter: “I think that’s why it’s probably so busy tonight, because everyone’s enjoying this last opportunity of freedom.”

A member of a group of female speed-daters said: “I’m not worried about Covid. My mum had it, I didn’t catch it. I got tested yesterday I was negative, so I’m all good. Our university tests us every week.”

Another suggested that the increase in testing was driving the rising positive cases, adding: “Voting for Boris Johnson was the worst decision of my life.”

Piers Corbyn, who has previously been arrested and fined £10,000 for breaching coronavirus regulations, later arrived to show his support and shake hands with people.

“We’re here to drink against the curfew,” said the brother of the former Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn. “To oppose the lockdowns, to oppose job losses caused by lockdowns, to oppose all of it. The whole lot should be lifted now.”

Speaking to reporters, he falsely claimed there was “no such thing” as a coronavirus: “There are other viruses around but there’s not a magic, dangerous Covid virus.”

The Metropolitan police said they would be taking more strident action against those who flout the regulations.

“Communities across London can therefore expect to see an increase in our efforts to deal with the most deliberate, harmful and flagrant breaches of regulations,” said deputy assistant commissioner Matt Twist, the Met’s lead for Covid-19. The force has been contacted for further comment.

There were also bizarre scenes in Soho on the first night of the 10pm curfew last month, with revellers questioning the apparent focus on controlling the spread of coronavirus at the expense of addressing mental health issues and efforts to reduce deaths from other causes.

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